Have you ever found yourself wondering when those results will come? That special day when your relationships will be perfect, that day when your confidence will be at the level you always dreamt about? Or that you will stop going to therapy and walk on your own two feet when the storm hits? What all these have in common is that it takes a strategy to get there. Let us explore that.
In science, scientists use hypothesizes to prove or disprove assumptions. Such examples of hypothesizes may be “At what temperature will water boil” or “At what temperature will water freeze”. Scientists make a bunch of experiments and see what happens when they are put to test. When everything is done, tests will be evaluated, reassessed and finally summarize their findings and start over until they have approved or disproved their assumptions. So there is a continuous iteration on the original hypothesis. Scientists have a focus on learning, let us try to transfer that mindset to our personal lives and see how it can be applied.
So let us say that you are currently struggling with a bad relationship and this friendship is just driving you completely crazy for various reasons. That person might not be the friend you need he/she to be, not as proactive towards you as you want or any other reason why your relationship might be challenging. So let us say this relationship has been like this for a long time. Well, now it is time to evaluate your strategy to see if it is possible to improve some of the aspects that make up that relationship. Before we go there I want to explain what strategy means in this context. That is the conscious and unconscious actions you make to enable that relationship to work with a corresponding way of measuring the actions in relation to a goal. And how are you measuring your results? Are you even measuring? What is the time frame for your actions? Is it 3 or 6 months? When will you consider the action(s) as successful or unsuccessful? What is the goal(s) and are they aligned with the actions? Do they correspond to each other?
Imagine if you sign up to a gym. You will get your membership and most likely they will also provide you with a personal trainer to get you going. Main purpose of a personal trainer is to get you a training schedule that will allow you to get more out of your membership, thus influencing your overall chance of sticking to your habits and paying your gym membership for a longer period of time. The way a therapist help you with your mental health, a personal trainer help you with your training; through guidance.
So how could a strategy for the gym look? It could include actions such as; sleeping routines, eating habits, specific exercises and what should be your mindset to align body and mind. Finally, there should be a goal. All of these actions need to be categorized into smaller pieces to make them more specific. Most importantly, goals and actions need to be of the same nature or at least within the same branch. If you have a goal of increasing your muscle mass and one of the efforts is to spend more time with friends then you might run into problems. A revised version of a goal and an action would be; gain muscle mass and wake up earlier to get an hour at the gym. Now there is a relationship between the goal and actions to get there.
Imagine that this gym analogy can be applied to a more abstract and less measurable topic such as relationships, friendships, improving your mental health or any other “abstract” part of your life. What are the actions you are investing to reach that goal and how are you measuring progress or regression towards that goal? And what is the time frame before the strategy will be deemed successful or unsuccessful? It sounds very mechanical and rigid but given the magnitude of people who struggle with various physical and mental health issues these days, it is apparent that there is a mismatch between goals and actions and a lack of evaluation of how efficient they are at bringing goals closer.
To follow up on the friendship note made earlier; if you are dissatisfied with your current relationship, it can be useful to do some honest soul searching. Start by asking yourself; what is my part in this? What am I doing on a day to day basis to make it work or to not make it work? How much energy am I putting into this friend? Can the craziness be a shared result? May my perspective on the topic be flawed thus inaccurate? As you understand; the devil is in the details.
So today is strategy day. Take your goal(s) and line up all the actions(what you are doing on a day to day basis) to reach your goal and set a timeline. If you are dissatisfied with your current state then it is time to evaluate and come up with new actions to reach that goal. You might also take a look at your goal and be open to change it. Lastly and most importantly; have you executed your actions fullhearted or half-hearted? How honest are you with yourself?
1. If you want to save money and you go drinking twice a week you have executed your strategy half-hearted.
2. If you complain about your relationship and do not act differently towards your friends, then you are doing it half-hearted.
3. If you complain about your weight and you are still drinking twice a week and “justify” eating chocolate, you are executing your strategy half-hearted.
4. If you are complaining about your mental health and you are scrolling through Instagram and Facebook every day you are doing a half-hearted effort.
5. If you complain about being broke and how the world is conspiring against you, while you sit at home ordering take-out because you are too lazy to walk 200 meters you are executing half-hearted.
Are you honest? Self-awareness and self-improvement go hand in hand, anything else is mental masturbation. Do not do that, it does not work. This is a challenge to you; find a goal in your life. Strategize it by the following metrics:
1. Goals and actions.
2. Set a timeline and be honest with yourself at the end of the timeline when you are evaluating. Restrict yourself to 3–6 months depending on the grade of complexity. (Relationships are more intangible, exercising is more tangible)
3. Learn from your discoveries.
4. Start over.
Ignorance today is a choice. Do not be ignorant. Happy strategizing.